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THE GREAT DEBATE DEBATE The glowing headlines about Andrea Campbells rising political star

and her potentially history-making run for attorney general are quickly being replaced by something else: story

after story

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about her refusal to commit to a debate or seven against Republican rival Jay McMahon.

Shes not the only one. Democratic auditor nominee state Sen. Diana DiZoglio told GBH shed agree to debate Republican Anthony Amore if the third-party candidates in the race also participate. A WCVB-proposed debate between Secretary of State Bill Galvin and Rayla Campbell isnt happening, the candidates said, because the TV station requires people entering its building to be vaccinated and the Republican nominee is not.

The only Democrat running statewide whos agreed to a debate this fall is Maura Healey. The attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial nominee is set to square off against Republican Geoff Diehl on Oct. 20 in a debate hosted by WCVB, WBUR and the Boston Globe. Diehl had asked for three debates, after shirking several offers for televised showdowns during his Republican primary against Chris Doughty.

But Healey isnt telling down-ballot Democrats to follow her lead. I cant really comment on that, Healey told reporters at a campaign stop Thursday. But I have agreed to debate and we do have one scheduled coming up, and well continue to review what comes in.

The consternation over the lack of debates is, in part, driven by the people who would typically host them. GBHs Jim Braude, a frequent moderator, used a Greater Boston

segment to drag the Democrats for not agreeing to debates. NBC10 Bostons Alison King asked Healey on Thursday if shed participate in a debate on her network, to which Healey laughed and said its fair of you to ask but didnt answer the question.

Debate aversion isnt limited to Massachusetts. GOP Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Senate candidate J.D. Vance both declined to debate their Democratic opponents. Vance even took a page out of former President Donald Trumps playbook by accusing the organizer, the Ohio Debate Commission, of bias

. In Arizona, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Democratic nominee for governor, wont debate her Republican opponent, Kari Lake.

There are plenty of reasons to skip debates, chief among them that frontrunners have little to gain from giving their opponents political oxygen and potentially opening themselves up to attack. But Healey debated McMahon in 2018 and went on to win by 40 points.

The bad press is starting to pile up for Campbell and other down-ballot Democrats here. Pundits, pollsters, professors

and the Boston Globe editorial board

are saying Democrats’ debate dodging is bad for democracy the thing Democrats say theyre trying to protect in the wake of Jan. 6, 2021. And the way to stop those negative stories is to you guessed it debate.

GOOD FRIDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. I guess fall is here.

TODAY Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Healey and Amore attend the El Mundo Hispanic Heritage Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at the Boston Park Plaza hotel. Healey tours a veterans workforce housing development project in Quincy at 10 a.m.

THIS WEEKEND Rep. Ayanna Pressley joins Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush for An Evening with the Squad at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Somerville Theatre. Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar and Tlaib are also holding a canvass kickoff at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Boston. Northeastern journalism professor Dan Kennedy is on WBZs Keller @ Large at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. McMahon is on WCVBs On the Record at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Tips? Scoops? Email me: [email protected].

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YAHD SIGNS AND BUMPAH STICKAHS

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Attorney General Maura Healey has endorsed state Sen. Diana DiZoglio for auditor after staying out of the Democratic primary for the seat. Taxpayers in Massachusetts deserve to know where their money is going. They deserve transparency from their elected officials, and accountability from their government, and I know Senator Diana DiZoglio can deliver, Healey said in a statement.

MAKING MOVES: Salem Mayor Kim Driscolls chief of staff will run to replace her if shes elected lieutenant governor. Dominick Pangallo says hes laying the groundwork for a campaign

in the event of a special election next year. Playbook also obtained a fundraising email that a group of 14 supporters sent on Pangallo’s behalf.

THE LATEST NUMBERS

Massachusetts reports 9,091 new COVID cases, a 15% increase from last week,

by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: The states daily average of 1,299 COVID cases from the last week is an increase from the daily rate of 1,134 infections during the previous week.

Massachusetts reports 17 new monkeypox cases, more than 16,000 people vaccinated,

by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: It brings the total number of monkeypox cases in the state to 381 since the states first case was announced in mid-May.

Town-by-town COVID-19 data in Massachusetts,

by Ryan Huddle and Peter Bailey-Wells, Boston Globe.

DATELINE BEACON HILL

Sports betting companies debate the use of temporary licenses in Mass.,

by Chris Van Buskirk, MassLive: Companies looking to offer mobile sports betting in Massachusetts were split Thursday on the use of temporary licenses, which have been pitched as a way to quickly stand up the sports wagering industry but regulators have cautioned come with many challenges. A Massachusetts Gaming Commission roundtable at the State House featured a whos who of the online sports betting industry, from household names like Boston-based DraftKings to new startups like Jake Pauls Betr. The meeting comes as the commission is working its way through a mound of new regulations and soliciting feedback from stakeholders through public meetings.

Baker Returns Confusing Road Safety Bill,

by Sam Drysdale, State House News Service (paywall): Gov. Charlie Baker has returned to the Legislature a bill designed to reduce traffic fatalities, citing differences over a proposed safe passing distance measure and lower speed limits, but saying he shares with lawmakers a mutual goal of improving roadway safety. The Legislature last week shipped the bill (H 5103) to Baker’s desk, with supporters saying its measures would improve roadway safety for vulnerable road users pedestrians, cyclists or anyone on the road who is not in a vehicle. Sen. William Brownsberger of Belmont, who is a longtime proponent of the bill, told the News Service that the bill’s measures will save lives. Baker returned the bill with amendments late Wednesday afternoon, raising concerns about enforcement and confusing requirements.

Region Reaches To Washington For Energy Aid Lifeline,

by Colin A. Young, State House News Service (paywall): Massachusetts is waiting to hear back from the Biden administration about what the federal government can do to enhance our ability to get through the winter, both in terms of having the power available to heat their homes but also hoping to deal with some of the price issues, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday. A top energy official in the Baker administration this week put residents on notice that the cost of heating their homes and keeping the lights on is likely to skyrocket here this winter as the price of natural gas soars. Judy Chang, undersecretary of energy and climate solutions in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said that the Baker administration has been working with our federal partners in developing a plan for New England’s winter.

With 64% increase in electric bills expected this winter, heres what Mass. is doing to explore relief,

by Alison Kuznitz, MassLive: As Bay Staters prepare for steep rate hikes in their electric bills this winter, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said relief may be on the way. Healeys office convened utility companies, as well as state administrators and regulators, on Wednesday, the same day National Grid announced skyrocketing natural gas prices linked to the war in Ukraine will trigger a 64% increase in monthly residential bills starting this November. In an interim solution, Healey urged Bay Staters to contact their utility companies about creating payment plans. Speaking in her AG capacity, Healey signaled the commonwealth could also follow the example set by New Hampshire, where lawmakers expanded eligibility for a fuel assistance program through a mixture of federal and state funds. [GOP governor hopeful Geoff] Diehl, in a news release issued later Thursday, demanded the Massachusetts Legislature scrutinize taxes and fees tied to customer utility bills and potentially, reduce or suspend them.

As energy prices soar, Galvin proposes creation of $50 million state fund for home heating oil,

by Sean P. Murphy, Boston Globe: Secretary of State William F. Galvin, wary of a winter spike in already-high home heating oil prices, is calling for a state appropriation of as much as $50 million to help tamp down costs to consumers. Galvin said there are several possibilities for using state money to help drive down the price of heating oil for low-income and middle-income residents, including the purchase by the state of a large quantity of heating oil as a hedge against a later spike in prices. He also said the money could be used to provide direct subsidies to consumers or price guarantees to wholesalers. The secretary of states duties do not include energy policy, but Galvin said hes raising the issue because of its urgency, and because hes concerned it may not get adequate attention as the Baker administration winds down after almost eight years in office.

19 Massachusetts police officers off the job as result of the new law enforcement certification,

by Christina Hager, WBZ: The WBZ I-Team has learned 19 police officers are no longer certified to serve in Massachusetts because of a new effort to boost the public’s trust in law enforcement. According to numbers we obtained from POST, the commission has gone through officers whose last names begin with ‘A’ through ‘H’. Of 8,729 reviewed, 19 have been stripped of their badges. The commission has two more years to work through the rest of the alphabet.

FROM THE HUB

One-on-one with Suffolk County DA Kevin Hayden after his win in controversial primary,

by Sharman Sacchetti, WCVB: After a difficult and controversial Democratic primary, Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden is all but guaranteed to sail into his first full term because he’s not facing a Republican challenger. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, who was one of several politicians to pull her endorsement of [Ricardo] Arroyo, said she still voted for him. Despite that, Hayden said he is confident that he can work with the mayor. We’ve talked since the election and we both know that we have important work to do for the safety and welfare of all Boston and Suffolk County, Hayden said.

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PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES

Should I walk? Orange Line riders grumble that slow zones are slower and more extensive than expected,

by Travis Andersen, Boston Globe: Orange Line trains have been moving very slowly since reopening Monday after a monthlong shutdown for critical repairs to the system, but the pace should start to pick up as early as next week, according to MBTA officials.

WRTA buses to remain free through June 2023,

by Sam Turken, GBH News: Buses in the Worcester area will remain free for at least another nine months after a Worcester Regional Transit Authority advisory board unanimously voted Thursday to continue its fare-free policy.

MBTA bus service cuts, route changes would hurt Boston, Michelle Wu says,

by Gayla Cawley, Boston Herald: Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said she strongly supports many of the commitments made in the MBTAs bus network redesign proposal, but is concerned about service cuts, route changes, and a lack of connections in certain neighborhoods. Wu said the City of Boston opposes changes to bus route 11 between South Boston and downtown, route 39 between Jamaica Plain and Back Bay, and route 55 between Fenway-Kenmore and Back Bay. She is also calling for the restoration of the pre-pandemic route 55, with service to downtown Boston.

MIGRANTS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Was DeSantis sending migrants to Marthas Vineyard a crime? Healey wont say,

by Alison Kuznitz, MassLive: Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the Democratic nominee for governor, refused to say Thursday whether she believed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis committed a crime in sending nearly 50 Venezuelan migrants to Marthas Vineyard. Healey, taking a similar line as Gov. Charlie Baker took earlier this week, instead focused on her offices nonpartisan ability to respond to the migrant situation while stopping short of disclosing what type legal action, if any, may soon emerge. Other Massachusetts leaders, as well as a Texas county sheriff, have more explicitly accused DeSantis of breaking the law.

DAY IN COURT

DOJ strikes deal with Newton judge charged with helping immigrant evade ICE capture,

by Shelley Murphy, Boston Globe: The Justice Department has moved in the interest of justice to drop all charges against a Newton District Court judge and former court officer who were accused of thwarting efforts by federal agents to take an undocumented immigrant into custody, drawing an end to a contentious case that had been brought under the Trump administration. In exchange, Newton District Court Judge Shelley Joseph has admitted to certain facts that will be referred to the Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct, which investigates alleged misconduct by judges and makes recommendations to the states highest court about potential disciplinary action, according to a filing by prosecutors in US District Court on Thursday.

Epic Massachusetts crime lab scandal may involve even broader wrongdoing, judge says,

by Maggie Mulvihill and Jon Schuppe, NBC News: A decade-old scandal at a Massachusetts crime lab which led authorities to dismiss tens of thousands of drug convictions may involve wrongdoing by more people than was previously known, according to a recent court order. A state Superior Court judge said in a ruling related to the release of a trove of state investigative materials that there is evidence that other employees at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute beyond disgraced former chemist Annie Dookhan may have engaged in misconduct. The ruling stokes lingering doubts about statements by the state inspector generals office over the past eight years that Dookhan was the sole bad actor at the Hinton lab. And it means the vast scandal could grow.

BALLOT BATTLES

Ballot question would shift profits from insurers to dentists,

by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: Why are Massachusetts dentists and orthodontists spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a campaign to change the rules governing dental insurance? Evan Horowitz, executive director of the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University, has the answer in a report released Thursday: money. A November ballot measure Question 2 would require dental insurers to spend at least 83 percent of premiums on clinical costs and quality improvements, rather than administrative costs, similar to an existing rule in place for health insurance.

FROM THE 413

‘You want to scream’: Amid a national trend, Berkshires municipal clerks hit with record requests about November 2020 election,

by Greta Jochem, Berkshire Eagle: Recent emails in Town Clerk Kerry Sullivan’s inbox have made her feel like screaming. As Sullivan prepares for the elections in November, she has gotten an influx of public record requests about the November 2020 election. She’s gotten emails asking for voters’ ID numbers and serial numbers of election equipment from an election that was almost two years ago. This is our busiest time … I don’t have an assistant, Sullivan said. Sullivan is not alone in her frustration. Around the country and state, election officials have recently received a large increase in requests for information about the 2020 election, fueled by conservative activists who dispute the presidential election results.

MEANWHILE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

N.H. poll finds Democrats narrowly leading Republican challengers for Senate, Congress,

by James Pindell, Boston Globe: Conducted after last weeks primary, the poll found Democratic US Senator Maggie Hassan leading Republican nominee Don Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general, 49 percent to 41 percent. Libertarian candidate Jeremy Kauffman had 5 percent support and another 5 percent were undecided.

HEARD ROUND THE BUBBLAH

TRANSITIONS Former EEA Sec. Katie Theoharides, now head of Offshore Development (East) at RWE Renewables, is joining the Environmental League of Massachusetts Board of Directors.

Boston law firm Sherin and Lodgen has added Briana McCarthy to its real estate department.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Michael Falcone of MacDougall Advisors and Joshua Foer. 

HAPPY BIRTHWEEKEND to former Rep. Joseph Kennedy II, former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Scott Wallace, founder of the Wallace Global Fund and co-founder of Kennedy Democrats; Musawir Chaudhry and Hope Hall, who celebrate Saturday; and to Sunday birthday-ers Emma Sands, Jonathan Cohn and Nicco Mele. Happy belated to GBHs Jeremy Siegel, who celebrated Thursday.

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